Slave Village Discovered in Maryland

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Date: August 11, 2010
Contact: Joy Beasley, 410-925-8682

Surface-Penetrating Radar

Surface-penetrating radar is used to locate subsurface features.

NPS Staff

Archeologists Unearth First National Park Service Site of Its Kind on the East Coast.

National Park Service (NPS) archeologists have uncovered the site of the largest known slave habitation site in the Mid-Atlantic region at Monocacy National Battlefield near Frederick, Maryland. The remains of several dwelling houses have been uncovered, as well as artifacts associated with enslaved occupations of the site from 1794 until 1827. On Wednesday, August 18, surface penetrating radar was used to locate two additional house sites, bringing the total to at least six individual structures. Surface penetrating radar is a remote-sensing technique that uses electromagnetic waves to detect buried features, such as foundations.

The site is associated with L'Hermitage, a plantation established in 1794 by the Vincendières, a family of French planters who came to Maryland from Saint-Domingue (known today as Haiti). By 1800, L'Hermitage was home to 90 enslaved laborers, approximately ten times the number of slaves that would be expected for the size of the plantation. This was the second largest slave population in Frederick County at the time and among the largest in the state of Maryland. 

Information from the surface penetrating radar survey will help focus the excavations, which are expected to continue until October. "We are very excited about these discoveries and what they can tell us about the people who lived and labored at L'Hermitage," said project director Joy Beasley, Monocacy National Battlefield's Cultural Resources Program Manager. Information from the excavations will be used in the development of new exhibits and interpretive programs focusing on slavery and African-American experiences at Monocacy National Battlefield. 

Funding for this project has been provided by the NPS Cultural Resource Preservation Program, Monocacy National Battlefield, and the Secretary of the Interior's Youth Intake Program. Undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Maryland (College Park), American University, Howard University, and Hood College have been hired to assist with this project.


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